Kaniet Island Shell Bladed Axe Bismark Archipelago
This Shell Bladed Axe from Kaniet Island in the Bismark Archipelago near New Guinea has a well handled patina and wonderful carving. The figural head is similar in design to an example in Spirals From the Sea by Jane Fearer Safer and Frances McLaughlin Gill (page 46) which they say is carved in the shape of a bird (it does show a certain resemblance to a Dugong). This example has loss under it's head and has wear on the backside of the handle (opposite the blade) most likely from being struck with a mallet, either to insert the shell-blade or in using the piece as an adze. The handle has a stable glued diagonal crack partway through it which leads he to believe that the piece was used. The wear has heavy patination over it so it happened gradually over the piece's long life. The axe measures 14 1/2" in length and the Giant Clamshell blade measures 2 11/16" long x 1 1/2" across (at the blade's edge) x 1" thick at the handle.